The Duke of Cambridge has arrived in Israel, making him the first senior member of the Royal Family to make an official visit to the country and the Palestinian territories.
On Monday evening, the Duke of Cambridge touched down in Tel Aviv after two days in Jordan. Whilst in Jordan, the Duke toured the Roman ruins of Jerash, met Syrian Refugees and sat down to watch England’s extraordinary 6-1 World Cup win over Panama with 23-year-old Crown Prince Hussein.
During his time in Israel and Palestine, the Duke of Cambridge will meet with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as well as Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.
Despite Kensington Palace reinforcing the “non-political nature of His Royal Highnesses’ work”, there has already been political drama.
Last week several Israeli MPs voiced their outrage after the royal itinerary mentioned that the Duke’s visit to the Old City in Jerusalem was in the “the occupied Palestinian Territories”, when in fact it is part of East Jerusalem.
Ben Jamal, director of the Palestinian Solidarity Campaign, believes the Duke of Cambridge has been put in an “appalling position”.
He said: “The decisions about where the Royal Family go are made not by the Royal Family, but by the UK Government, and I think the responsibility for putting a member of the Royal Family in what I would describe a completely invidious position, where he is at risk of being seen to sugar-coat, to normalise human rights abuses, that responsibility rests with Theresa May.”
Mr Jamal added: “It is impossible in that context for the first visit not to be political… The only good that can come out of this is if it brings international attention to the continuing oppression of the Palestinian people and need for action to end that.”
Britain’s Jewish Leadership Council’s CEO, Simon Johnson, is more optimistic about the trip. He said: “We’ve waited a long time for an official visit of this nature, and we’re delighted that the Duke of Cambridge will be spending time in the region and proper time in Israel learning about the country and meeting people and experiencing some of the issues that are relevant on the ground.”
“There’s no question that diplomatically its very sensitive, and I’m sure that Kensington Palace and the Foreign Office are tiptoeing appropriately around the areas that might create flashpoints.”
Some of the sites the Duke will visit have not been mentioned in his itinerary but the ones that have include him meeting young Israelis and Palestinians.